May 16, 1955 The Eagle, Bryan, Texas
80 -Year Old Woman Wants To Repeat Wagon Venture
SHERMAN. Tex. — Her daughter paid a man 30 cents to teach her to harness a horse. The horse bit him. That’s why Ma Weaver paid the 30 cents. Then Ma and her two daughters were off by covered wagon for Denver, Colo. Today, 21 years later, that covered wagon is a permanent fixture in the side yard of her home at 322 N. Burdette St.
Mrs. Birdie Weaver, Ma to all who know her, has only one regret these days. She can’t find anyone to repeat the trip with her. She’s 80. “I’d buy a new wagon,” she dreams. The original has rotted to much for such a journey. “It’s the only way to travel. Automobiles is awful. Just perfectly awful. I wouldn’t go anywhere in a car.”
The trip started from here in October, 1934. Mother, Betty and Beatrice arrived in Denver six months later, spent a year and returned the same way. The younger women were in their 20s. Beatrice now is Mrs. R. D. Spangler. Why did they make the trip? “Just for the fun of it,” says Ma Weaver with finality. It was no typical prairie schooner which made the voyage. Instead of canvas, the covering was of sheet metal. Coops I underneath carried their chickens. Winnie the milk cow tagged along behind wearing special shoes designed by the Weavers.
The wagon doors had padlocks. Each woman had a revolver. Going up, they ran into rough weather—a snowstorm on the New Mexico plains and the famous Black Dusters sandstorms of the 30s. They lost three horses, but Ginger, a tough little mare, pulled and pulled and finally brought the wagon back to Sherman. She died of old age at 27. Once, on a shorter trip, a horse died and the Weavers were low on money. So they hitched Winnie the cow along-side Ginger and made it home.
Winnie died, elderly at 14, of a snakebite.
At 80, Ma Weaver still helps Betsy look after 36 head of cattle and rises at 3 a. m .to milk half their 14 cows. The way she looks at it, all women should do as much. “Modern women,” she snorts, “ain’t no ’count.”
She was born in 1875 in East Texas, daughter of a former Confederate army surgeon who owned a plantation in antebellum days. “If those Yankees hadn’t come along and messed things up,” she says, “I would have had millions.” “Then men, all they know is devilment.”